Admission to undergraduate programs is granted by the USC Office of Admission. This office receives and processes all applications, evaluates credentials, and mails letters of acceptance to applicants who qualify for entrance. Admission to the university’s degree programs must be granted in all cases by the USC Office of Admission and the appropriate selection committees. Only a letter from the Office of Admission grants official admission.
The University of Southern California admits qualified men and women as students regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran. After admission, students are accorded equal rights to participate in all university-sponsored programs and activities. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, handicap, sexual orientation or status as a disabled veteran in the administration of its educational policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics and other student activities.
Applicants with Disabilities
In compliance with the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), USC offers equal access to its degree programs to academically qualified applicants with documented disabilities. Applicants will be expected to have demonstrated by their record in a college preparatory high school curriculum or in an appropriate transferable college course of study that they can perform well in a competitive academic environment. See here and here for a discussion of possible accommodations. USC is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.
Retention of Records
Credentials submitted to the Office of Admission become the property of the university and cannot be returned to the student or duplicated for any purpose.
Students submit applications online through the Common Application at commonapp.org. Alternatively, students may download the forms from the Common Application Website and submit them via mail to: Office of Admission, University of Southern California, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911. A nonrefundable fee will be charged with the completed application, although students with financial need may request a fee waiver. For specific application deadlines and requirements, refer to usc.edu/admission or the Applying to USC brochure.
Credentials for admission must include complete records of all previous high school and college or university work and the required test scores. Consult the Applying to USC brochure for detailed information about forwarding official records directly to the Office of Admission and requesting that testing agencies forward appropriate scores.
USC does not undertake the collection of these credentials. The application for admission and complete credentials should be submitted to the Office of Admission by the appropriate deadlines.
Factors given prime consideration for admission to undergraduate study are an applicant’s previous academic success and the quality of all records presented. To ensure diversity in the composition of the student body, other considerations may include outstanding talent and abilities, extracurricular activities and letters of recommendation.
Deferring Admission A student is accepted only for the semester and program specified in the letter of admission. If a different semester is desired or if the student cannot arrive on campus in time for the specified semester, students may defer admission for one year by submitting a USC Admission Deferral Request Form to the Admission Office. A deferral may be requested within one year of the original semester of application. (Example: A student applied for the fall 2012 semester and wishes to have admission deferred to the fall 2013 semester.) Longer gaps required for religious reasons or for compulsory military service will also be considered.
Once students have been admitted, they complete, sign and date the Admission Deferral Request Form and submit it to the Office of Admission as soon as possible. Only students who have been formally admitted to USC may request a deferral.
As a private university, USC seeks a wide geographical distribution among its student body, and evaluates its out-of-state applicants using the same criteria as those used for California residents. Tuition and fees are the same for all students, regardless of state or country of residence.
School and Department Application Requirements
Because of strong competition for admission, several schools and academic departments require supplementary application materials and may employ separate deadlines.
Leventhal School of Accounting Transfer applicants interested in accounting must first apply to business administration. A formal request to transfer to the Leventhal School of Accounting can be made once the resident accounting course(s) are successfully completed. In some cases, high school students who have demonstrated exceptional scholastic aptitude for the accounting major will be considered for admission as freshmen. For more information, write or call the USC Marshall School of Business, Office of Undergraduate Admission, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0805, (213) 740-8885, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit marshall.usc.edu/lsoa.
School of Architecture (B.Arch., B.L.Arch., B.S., Architectural Studies) Transfer students should note that the core curriculum will take five years to complete. A portfolio is required of all applicants. For more information, write or call the USC School of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0291, (213) 740-2420, email email@example.com or visit arch.usc.edu.
Marshall School of Business Students may be admitted as incoming freshmen, as USC undergraduates transferring from another major or as students transferring from another college or university. Transfer students will be considered for admission to the Marshall School of Business once they have completed the prerequisite college writing and business calculus courses. Students should contact the Marshall School for a detailed list of equivalent courses. For further information, write or call the USC Marshall School of Business, Office of Undergraduate Admission, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0805, (213) 740-8885, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or refer to marshall.usc.edu.
School of Cinematic Arts (Animation and Digital Arts, Critical Studies, Interactive Entertainment, Production, and Writing for Screen and Television) Supplemental materials are due December 1. Transfer students applying to the writing program should note that the core curriculum takes four years to complete. For specific instructions on applications and required supplementary material, contact the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Student Affairs Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211, (213) 740-8358, email email@example.com or visit cinema.usc.edu.
Ostrow School of Dentistry (Dental Hygiene) All prerequisite and general education course work must be completed prior to entering dental hygiene classes, which begin in the fall of the student’s junior year. Contact the department about completing necessary courses at USC or elsewhere. Admission is for the fall semester only. The supplemental application deadline is February 1.
For further information and a supplemental application, write or call the Ostrow School of Dentistry, Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, 925 West 34th Street, Room 201, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641, (213) 740-2841 or visit usc.edu/dental.
School of Dramatic Arts (BFA and B.A.) All first-year and transfer applicants must complete the School of Dramatic Arts section of the USC Supplement to the Common Application. The deadline for all first-year and transfer applicants to BFA programs is December 1. B.A. applicants can apply by the regular first-year and transfer deadlines. An audition/interview is required for admission to the BFA program; applicants will be notified of the dates and locations for auditions and interviews after the departmental application is received. Additional information is available by calling (213) 740-1286 or visiting dramaticarts.usc.edu.
Viterbi School of Engineering Applicants to engineering and computer science majors must respond to the two short-answer questions on the USC Supplement to the Common Application. For first-year applicants to all majors in engineering and computer science, four years of mathematics are required for admission consideration, preferably with calculus in progress or completed by senior year. Three years of natural sciences are also required. Transfer applicants to all majors in engineering and computer science should have completed one or more semesters of college-level calculus and meet USC admission requirements. Transfer students are encouraged to complete additional pre-engineering course work as available; visit viterbi.usc.edu/admission for a list of relevant courses. For more information, contact the Viterbi School of Engineering Admission and Student Affairs Office at (213) 740-4530 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Roski School of Fine Arts (BFA and B.A.) The Roski section of the USC Supplement to the Common Application and slide portfolios are required of all applicants to the BFA and B.A. (Studio Arts) programs. Applicants may contact the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, Watt Hall 104, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0292, (213) 740-2787, for questions about applications and required supplementary materials.
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (includes majors in broadcast journalism, print journalism and public relations) All applicants to Journalism and Public Relations must submit a one-page statement of intent explaining their reasons for pursuing an education and a career in journalism or public relations. Statements are read with great attention to commitment and literacy. Students whose first language is not English and whose secondary school instruction was not in English must submit TOEFL results. For more information, contact the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Recruitment Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0281, (213) 821-0770, email email@example.com or visit annenberg.usc.edu.
Thornton School of Music The deadline for all music majors (freshman and transfer) is December 1. All required supplementary materials must be received by this date. The Thornton departmental section in the USC Supplement to the Common Application is required for all majors. An audition is required for most majors. Audition requirements and dates can be found at usc.edu/music or by contacting the Thornton School of Music Office of Admission, University Park, UUC 218, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2991, (213) 740-8986. Applicants are urged to apply as early as possible.
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Admission to the program is competitive. Students may apply as early as their freshman year, but no later than their junior year. Students should indicate their interest as soon as possible to receive proper academic advisement. Contact the division to schedule an appointment with an undergraduate adviser. For information about admission criteria, program course sequence and application procedures, visit usc.edu/ot. Alternatively, write or call the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at 1540 Alcazar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9003, (866) 385-4250.
School of Pharmacy The Trojan Admission Pre-Pharmacy (TAP) program is a unique program for entering freshmen: a pre-pharmacy/doctor of pharmacy curriculum that affords students continuity in their professional education. Students admitted to TAP begin their pre-pharmacy course work at USC in the freshman year and are guaranteed admission to the USC School of Pharmacy, provided they meet specified criteria. First-year applicants to TAP must submit the Common Application by the January 10 deadline. In addition, applicants must file all departmental materials with the School of Pharmacy by February 15. For more information about TAP, see here. All applicants should contact the School of Pharmacy for instructions at USC School of Pharmacy, 1985 Zonal Avenue, PSC 206A, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9121, (323) 442-1466 or pharmacyschool.usc.edu/programs/pre/tap.
Admission from Secondary Schools
Prospective freshmen are evaluated on the content and rigor of their high school course work, their grades, standardized test scores, activity summary, essay, short answers and counselor/teacher recommendations. There are no absolute “cutoffs” or minimums for grades, rank in class or test scores. We are interested in the interplay of these elements as well as personal accomplishments and potential for success.
The most fundamental expectation of each entering student at USC is that she or he will have completed a rigorous high school curriculum in English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts. We realize, of course, that individual talents, circumstances and opportunities vary greatly. Therefore, no specific curriculum is prescribed. However, we do expect that prospective students will take advantage of the highest level of classes offered to them in their secondary schools.
Grade Point Average
When assessing grade point average, consideration is also given to class rank and to the strength and frequency of Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate course work in a student’s curriculum. Naturally, we are interested in consistently strong academic performance throughout the four-year high school record. However, we realize that some bright students, for one reason or another, may encounter difficulties in ninth grade. In these cases, special attention is given to steady and substantial improvement throughout the sophomore, junior and senior years.
Standardized Test Requirement
SAT and ACT
USC requires either SAT or ACT scores (with the optional writing test) from all first-year applicants, and from transfer students who have accumulated fewer than 30 transferable semester units since finishing high school. For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section — critical reading, mathematics and writing — even if achieved in different sittings. For students taking the ACT, USC will record the highest composite score.
If test information and application forms are not readily available, write to the College Board SAT Program, 901 South 42nd Street, Mount Vernon, IL 62824; or the American College Testing Program, P.O. Box 414, Iowa City, IA 52240. For the SAT, visit collegeboard.org; for the ACT visit act.org.
SAT Subject Tests
We only require SAT subject tests from freshman applicants who do not attend a regionally accredited high school, e.g., home schools, some private, parochial or even some new schools. These students must submit three SAT Subject exams, including one in mathematics, in addition to the SAT or ACT. For all other applicants, these exams are optional. We find them helpful in evaluating applications for merit scholarships.
Freshman applicants who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) examinations are encouraged to provide those results.
International freshman applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). International freshman applicants with minimum scores of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading or a 27 on the ACT English are exempt from taking the TOEFL. The TOEFL must be taken within two years of the application date.
Credit by Examination
Students may earn a total of 32 semester units of credit toward their bachelor’s degree by examination. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit is granted at USC for exams taken before matriculation at a two-year or four-year college and will be evaluated solely according to USC’s Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate policies.
Students who have also earned credit for college courses taken while in high school should refer here.
Advanced Placement Examinations (AP)
USC grants college credit for the Advanced Placement Examinations of the Educational Testing Service. A student may be granted four semester units of credit for most AP tests with scores of four or five. For specific AP credit information call the Office of Admission, (213) 740-1111 or visit usc.edu/articulation.
USC grants either 20 units of credit to students who earn the International Baccalaureate diploma with a score of 30 or higher, or six units for each score of 5 or higher on the IB Higher Level exams, for a maximum of four exams, whichever is higher. International Baccalaureate results should be sent directly from the International Baccalaureate Organization to: University of Southern California, Articulation Office, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0912. For more information, visit usc.edu/articulation.
Subject Credit by Special Examination
See the Subject Credit by Special Examination section (here) for further information.
College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
USC does not grant credit on the basis of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP).
Admission from Colleges and Universities
An applicant may be admitted by transfer from a fully accredited college, university or community college, under the following conditions: (1) if the applicant has completed 30 or more transferable college semester units with an appropriately strong grade point average in an academically rigorous selection of courses; (2) if the applicant is not under the penalty of academic or disciplinary disqualification at any college or university previously attended and is entitled to an honorable dismissal; and (3) if proof of high school graduation on a high school transcript has been provided as part of the application materials. If fewer than 30 transferable semester units have been completed at the time of application, the applicant must submit — in addition to the high school transcript — the results of the SAT or the ACT assessment.
Students intending to transfer to USC should refer to the brochure Transferring to USC for detailed information about the university’s transfer, admission and credit policies. Call the USC Office of Admission at (213) 740‑1111 or visit usc.edu/transferring.
The amount of advanced standing granted to a student transferring from another institution is determined in each individual case by the Office of Academic Records and Registrar. A minimum of 64 units toward the bachelor’s degree must be earned in residence at USC. For a degree in Architecture, a minimum of 80 units must be earned in residence at USC. A maximum of 70 of the transferable units for this program may be earned at two-year colleges. For students in Engineering’s “3-2” Program, at least 48 units must be earned in residence at USC. Two-thirds of any transferable course work must be completed at one of USC’s four-year partner institutions.
It is the student’s responsibility to report all college-level course work completed outside USC to the Office of Admission when completing the application form. Omitting such information constitutes a violation of the applicant’s affidavit and may result in the revocation of admission to the university.
Records of all courses including correspondence study, extension or summer session courses taken in other institutions after the student’s admission to USC must also be filed with the Office of Academic Records and Registrar immediately following the completion of the work.
Admission of International Students
The University of Southern California has an outstanding record of commitment to international education. From a small presence during our early history, our international enrollment grew to an average of 200 students by the 1930s. After declining international enrollments in the years surrounding World War II, USC began rebuilding and in 1951 began providing specialized admission services to international students. By 1964, more than 1,000 international students were enrolled at USC. Today, the Office of Admission serves thousands of prospective students each year by providing both general and specialized information and by maintaining the expertise necessary to evaluate academic records from the various educational systems around the world. The Office of Admission also issues the required eligibility certificates for students to enter the United States.
At USC, an international student is an individual of foreign nationality who will be entering or has already entered the United States with a student visa. However, students already residing in the U.S. and holding other non-immigrant visas (such as E2, H2 or L2) are also international students. International students do not qualify for need-based financial aid. U.S. permanent residents, naturalized U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens residing and attending school outside the United States are not considered international students and are eligible for need-based financial aid.
For complete information, see Admission of International Students.